“I drove to school everyday for 2 years with a stomachache. I sort of had the idea that it was related to how terrified I was of going to this competitive high school. No one used the word anxiety. I just spent all that time thinking that I was wrong.”
“The voice in my head is so critical and when I judge myself, I feel so awful. It’s as though I am being eaten up inside.”
“When one of these attacks comes on, it’s like time stops. I can’t see what’s in front of me, I start to sweat through my clothes. I’m so worried I’m going to have a heart attack and never be my normal self again.”
What is anxiety?
If you found your way to this page because you’ve been struggling with dread and fear and find yourself avoiding work, social activities, or people, you are not alone. Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health challenges currently plaguing us.
It’s important to know that there is nothing wrong with you if anxiety is newly part of your life, or if you’ve been dealing with it since childhood. There are genetic, environmental and situational links to anxiety, so many of us know someone right now who is struggling.
Anxiety can be situational, such as being anxious about a job interview, or it can be pervasive, causing a lifetime of distress and functioning issues.
Anxiety is experienced so differently across the population. There are some people who get so ill from an anxious situation that they vomit and some who suffer because their minds just won’t settle.
Anxiety can truly wreak havoc on our bodies. It can be responsible for headaches and migraines, digestive issues, indigestion skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis, sleep issues and even reproductive challenges. The effects of anxiety can be temporary and may pass or, left untreated can create long standing health issues.
Lots of us don’t make the connection that the sickness we’ve been experiencing is actually the manifestation of anxiety in our body.
Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and noticed by others. It can feel so overwhelming and it can create great uncertainty in many social situations. Long standing social anxiety can really wear away at an individual’s sense of self.
Someone with social anxiety may be gathered at a social event and feel like a fish out of water, as though everyone there can read their mind and can notice how uncomfortable they are.
After a while, the constant feeling of being noticed and judged by others can change the way a person feels about themselves.
In addition to the cognitive burden of social anxiety, it is also felt in the body, sweaty palms, flushed face, racing heartbeat. This kind of stress can take a toll on a person’s health.
Additionally, it can get so uncomfortable to be in a body that is reacting and responding in such big ways, so unexpectedly.
Left untreated, social anxiety can lead to isolation and in certain situations even grow into other types of anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia.
Weddings, birthday parties, holiday gatherings, proms, many events and celebrations can become dreadful to someone with social anxiety, leaving a sense of hopelessness about being able to enjoy themselves and feel good around others.
The thing about panic is that it can come out of nowhere. You’re sitting in a movie theatre just enjoying a film and suddenly your heart starts racing and the pace of your breath starts to increase rapidly. You feel like you can’t be in this body for one more second. Then you begin to worry about other people noticing what’s happening and that makes the panic even more intense.
Panic can feel like a huge event to your body. It can truly overwhelm a person and give the experience of having the rug pulled out from under the normal way of being you have grown accustomed to.
Many people are aware of panic attacks, and many have even experienced a time or two in their lives that fit the criteria for a panic attack. Some individuals experience panic disorder, where they are plagued by a constant sense of impending dread, extreme worry, and regular panic attacks. It can feel like being a prisoner in your own body.
Do you have trouble flying? Do you get on a plane and no matter how long the plane ride is, you don’t feel comfortable in your body the whole time? Do you have to take a substance to settle yourself before flying?
Many people struggle with fears of a particular situation so big that it becomes a phobic response. Flying isn’t the only situation where people develop such big and chronic fear; it can also be to bugs, needles, vomiting and many others.
What is common for individuals with phobias is that they experience so much fear in their body that they oftentimes avoid the triggering situation altogether. This can create intense functioning issues as people will avoid checkups at the doctor, outdoor events, business and social functions as well.
Sometimes it’s hard for others to relate...
In the last 2 years, mental health has become less stigmatized. As the pandemic forced us to be home and the lingering uncertainties of Covid continued, we needed help and many of us turned finally to therapy. However, we still have a long way to go. Many people don’t believe in anxiety, or any mental illnesses and some believe that people with anxiety ought to be able to talk themselves out of an anxious time in their life.
A small number of us can work out our anxious thoughts and feelings without complication. However, a vast majority of us get stuck in anxiety. Comments such as “you just need to think positive,” or “mind over matter“ can really cause pain for someone already suffering and may create even further isolation.
It can be difficult for someone struggling with anxiety to find the words to explain to their loved ones what has been going on inside of them. That becomes even more challenging when they are faced with the hurdles of biases and misunderstandings.
How counseling can help...
Seeking therapy for counseling can help because it may be the first or only time someone is listening to how hard it’s been for you and not trying to create solutions for you. It may be the first and deepest time someone actually sees you.
A therapist will work first at listening to the details of how anxiety is showing up in your life. A therapist will work with you to create a plan to determine how much work has to be done with your thoughts and how much you have to learn about anxiety and your body.
You and your therapist will create a plan, a treatment plan with goals that you create and a timeline in which you can reach those goals, so you can begin to take authority over your anxiety.
Your therapist is your person. He or she is there to get to know what works best for helping you learn about yourself, cope and create healing for your anxiety.
Counseling can help you to learn how to work with your thoughts to decrease rumination and obsessive thinking. It can also help you learn how to help your body settle around the anxious response.
Lastly, you and your therapist might decide to go all the way back to the beginning of your story and life to try and figure out how the pattern of anxiety got started. Trauma work is often helpful in healing anxiety as it can get to the root of the issue and help best in creating new coping patterns.
The therapists at Mending Roots Healing Center are here to help. They can help you understand your anxiety better, help you realize that you are not alone and hope to create some hope for you to feel better soon.
You will find the therapists at Mending Roots Healing Center to be compassionate and non-judgmental.
They will have a space big enough for your anxiety and will help you grow in understanding and relief.
“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.” — Charlie Chaplin
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In an effort to provide services to the underserved and to serve our mission of being anti-racist, we are reserving our sliding scale spots for BIPOC clients. Please call for more details.